From Spinach to French Toast…

I’ve spent the morning sketching out a syllabus schedule and inviting guest speakers to my class (probably not two things that I should do on the same day since the dates the speakers are coming kinda affects the syllabus schedule). I have a feeling that this social justice course is one that will always be somewhat difficult to plan. There is so much heartache around the world and so many things to consider so the heartache and injustices are addressed with appropriate responses. It feels a little like I’m starting to pack a suitcase, and I just know I’m going to have to jump up and down on the lid of it to fit everything into the course.

It’s break time though. That schedule needs to chill for a bit before it gets translated from penciled chicken scratch to the scary permanent copy that I’ll give to students and have to abide by.

Here are the rest of the recipes that helped bring in the new year. I was trying recipes off my Pinterest boards at such a fast productive clip that I almost was able to erase the guilt over all the time I wasted pinning them.

Peanut Butter “Cheese Ball”

This is a dessert covered in chocolate and peanut butter chips, so I really shouldn’t have to say anything else to convince you to make it. But, it is worth going and looking at the pictures on The Girl Who Ate Everything blog in case you need more convincing. Basically, what you are making is a peanut butter core covered in festive chocolate and peanut butter chips. It wasn’t that hard to make though you do need to plan in advance due to the freeze time required. But, here’s the honest to goodness catch. Once you take it out of the freezer, it starts to lose its form fairly rapidly. I’d liken it to an ice cream cake; if you pull it out of the freezer too late to serve to guests, you’re going to be hacking away at it with graham cracker sticks and apple slices. If you leave it out to long, it’s not going to be all that appealing. It wouldn’t be a great choice for me to take to one of my family parties since our general philosophy is to pull out desserts and let people graze from the enormous selection for 2-3 hours. Ironically enough though, I could see this being a good thing to keep in the freezer if you’re trying to eat healthy but know you’re going to cheat every now and then. Since you need to let it thaw a bit, you’ll need to plan ahead for your treat, which will make you more intentional. And, it’s pretty rich, so a small slice should be sufficient to satisfy the sweet craving. Then it can get stuffed back in the freezer behind the broccoli and cauliflower until your sweet tooth says it’s treat time again. Yep, that seems like a reasonable plan unless freezing and thawing peanut butter makes it toxic. Really, you might never trust me when I say that you should put food in the freezer. I treat it like a magic box that has no effect on food and suspends its goodness indefinitely.

Ranch Oyster Crackers

If the peanut butter “cheese ball” was comparable to an ice cream cake, then the ranch oyster crackers were like a so-so first date. Basically, you’re coating some oyster crackers with ranch dressing mix, some dill weed, and some garlic. I’ll tell you that I used olive oil instead of the vegetable oil that the recipe calls for. Maybe that was the reason it wasn’t love at first sight. The second and third time I ate them, I liked them better. But, I’m still not 100% sold. I think I’ll break up with this recipe. First impressions are important. I was bummed out too because somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I thought I remembered eating these as a kid and liking them. Maybe it was a slightly different recipe, or maybe we used vegetable oil back them. Rachel Ray hadn’t yet made EVOO the rockstar of the kitchen, so I doubt my childhood home was stocked with it.

Oven Baked “Fried” Pickles

Fact: fried pickles are delightfully wonderful. Fact: these baked “fried” pickles don’t taste exactly like fried pickles
Other fact: NOTHING in the world that is baked will ever taste exactly like it was fried. That’s just not possible.
More cheerful fact: You can fit into your jeans after you eat many of these pickles because they are baked.
Fact: If you like fried pickles or are just curious about them, try these baked pickles. I like having this recipe on hand for when I want to eat something a little off the beaten path, and I liked how the breading had a little bit of a spicy kick to it.


Spinach-Artichoke French Bread Pizza

Thank you, Rachel Ray, for making EVOO a kitchen rock star and for providing this recipe for Spinach-Artichoke French bread pizza recipe. It was a nice diversion from my normal pizza recipe, which is to say that I now have the option not to go a couple of blocks to pick up a pizza from the local pizza place. Let me tell you two things though. The recipe says that this will make four french bread pizzas. I think I got eight, and I felt like the bread was cut to generous size and heaped generously with the topping as well. AND, I had enough left over to completely cover the second pre-packaged pizza crust that I had after making the breakfast pizza I posted a few days ago. I have an entire spinach artichoke pizza in my magic freezer now. Second thing– have toothpicks on hand. Just keeping it real, you’re going to get spinach in your teeth. Oh…one more thing…thaw the spinach all the way. I rushed mine and almost sustained frostbite while making this. I don’t know how these pizzas do in the microwave, but I warmed up leftovers in my toaster oven, and the bread stayed nice and crispy for me.


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